Catalog Essay for the exhibition
SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED
Curated by Mark Wethli
The Curator Gallery, New York
March 5 - April 18, 2015
Steven Alexander’s paintings are contemplative yet shimmering meditations on color, light, and the nuances of paint application. Their burnished surfaces and bittersweet color chords work together seamlessly to create objects of uncertain yet beguiling provenance. Alexander’s close attention to the edges of each color—some smooth, some frayed, some incised—define the transitions from one to the next even as glimpses of other colors just beneath the surface hint at past moments in the life of the painting. Alexander's careful attention to the outside edge of the canvas—achieved through either bordering shapes or subtle inflections in surface and value—draws the paintings (and the viewer) into a world of their own while at the same time expanding outward into this one. This accentuated edge also activates the center of the painting, which can be yielding but dense, airy but occluded, luminous yet overcast at the same time. Standing in front of them, these characteristics register in the body as well as the eye, awakening our kinesthetic connection to the work as well as our visual one. Just as the word “cleave” can mean to cut apart or join together, Alexander’s work achieves a paradoxical, complex, and satisfying sense of unity by delineating the distinct character, wavelength, density, and material nature of each shape and color, while at the same time joining them together in a luminous, indissoluble whole.
Mark Wethli is a painter from Brunswick, Maine, where he is also the A. Leroy Greason Professor of Art at Bowdoin College.